Balesin

Balesin Island, Philippines: Around the world in a day

The best thing about being a writer? Assignments that take you to undiscovered places like this exclusive, almost secret island getaway.

If you told me last Friday that I would suddenly find myself traveling via private plane to spend an entire day sunbathing and lounging by the infinity pool in this gorgeous piece of paradise, I would’ve rolled my eyes at you. But as luck would have it—Thank you, Travel Gods!—that is exactly what happened two days later. 

Balesin Island has officially trumped Boracay on my list of blissful holiday getaways. While I absolutely love drinking and partying the night away in Boracay (it is, as my friend J said, one big bar by the beach), Balesin is really the place to be if you want to relax and get away from it all.

Balesin Island 2013

Balesin Island 2013

Balesin Island 2013

Balesin Island 2013

First, you have 500 hectares of prime beach property all to yourself. I interviewed the developer last Friday and they told me that only 10 to 12 percent of the island will be developed; the rest will be kept as is. What this basically means is that even with the seven picturesque villages they’ve set up there, the place won’t become as overdeveloped (and polluted) as Boracay. And thank God for that because the island is impossibly beautiful—it is home to century-old trees, unique species of birds, gorgeous coral reefs, a series of lagoons, limestone cliffs, and a 7.3 kilometer stretch of powder white sand beaches. One side of the island faces the Pacific Ocean, while the other is afforded a view of Lamon Bay’s aquamarine waters and the Sierra Madre mountain ranges beyond.

And then there are the villages.

Seven in all—well, eight, if you count the Ifugao village they created for their third-generation Ifugao wood carvers—and each provides a crash course on the seaside destination it is named after: Mykonos (Greek), Bali (Indonesian), Phuket (Thai), St. Tropez (French), Toscana (Italian), Costa del Sol (Spanish), and Balesin (home sweet home!).

Balesin Island 2013

Balesin Island 2013

Balesin Island 2013

Balesin Island 2013

Balesin Island 2013

Balesin Island 2013

Balesin Island 2013

Balesin Island 2013

The level of attention they’ve paid to the smallest of details is quite astounding. I have to admit I was quite skeptical about the whole concept of themed villages because 1) it might end up looking like an island theme park gone wrong, and 2) I know a developer with a penchant for creating “Venetian” themed properties that turned out, well, not in the least bit like Venice.

Balesin Island 2013

But upon touring the resort, I quickly saw that this isn’t an issue where Balesin is concerned. Everything—the design and architecture, and even the scents emanating from each village—is accurately replicated.

Especially the food.

Mykonos’ Taverna Thanassis, for one, serves the best Greek food I’ve tasted. The company flew in a famous chef from Rhodes Island in Greece to teach the kitchen staff how to cook authentic greek cuisine. Their chicken gyro is f*cking amazing—I usually skip the pita to get to the meat, but their pita was so flavorful and savory that it can stand on its own as an entirely new dish. Not exaggerating. (Could also be that I was just really hungry)

Should you find yourself in Balesin’s shores (you need to be a member or be the guest of a member to get in *cry*), do not even waste five minutes and go directly to the taverna to try their Chocolate Mousse. It is to die for. You have not tasted chocolate mousse until you’ve tasted this one. Made of pure, sinful Belgian chocolate. Everything else just pales in comparison…

So there…I never imagined I would demolish this particular item on my list in Balesin, but I’m glad I crossed it off earlier than I expected. An out of town weekend doing absolutely nothing? CHECK!

April 2013

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18 comments

    1. Thank you for dropping by my blog! I just started reading yours–visiting the Maldives has always been in my bucket list and seeing your photos makes me want to make the trip ASAP. Haha cheers!

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  1. Hi there I want to know how much is there accommodation fee nd do they have website where we can make an appointment. thank u

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    1. Hi there! You may check out the island club’s official website: http://www.balesin.com :)

      Unfortunately, the island is not open to the public and is accessible only to its shareholders/members. One can go if invited by a shareholder/member. Last time I was there (June 2014), villas were priced at around P10,000 per night (which is pretty cheap considering they’re quite luxurious and spacious enough to accommodate up to 6 to 10 people). The only way there is by chartered plane from Manila, which you can book with the developer (see website). Hope that helps :)

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    1. Hi Kamae,

      Balesin is definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in the Philippines so far..

      Re your inquiry: I was there on a press trip and unfortunately do not know of any members willing to be paid for the fees. I’ll ask around and I will keep you posted :)

      Cheers!

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  2. Was there in Mar. 2014. It really is an amazing place. Mr. Ongpin has taken care to make each ‘village’ an authentic experience…down to the smallest details. Were you able to find the field of fireflies?? The Banyan tree that is about 40feet around the base? Huge orioles….some big bats at sunset too. Sunsets on the bay side of the island over the mountains are some of the most spectacular I have ever seen….

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    1. Hi Horatio,

      I totally agree with you—sunset on the bay side of Balesin was definitely one of the best I’ve seen :) And yes, saw everything you mentioned. Which one’s your favorite village? Did you try that deliriously good chocolate ganache in Santorini? I’d come back to the island just for that. :D

      Props to Mr. Ongpin—for all the controversy surrounding him, the man has got a keen eye for detail and compromises nothing when it comes to ensuring quality of his properties…

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